Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's Only Rock'n'Roll

Today's New York Times has a feature on the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago's new exhibition "Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967" with comments by celebrity couple Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson (who each have a foot in both worlds), Tony Oursler, David Byrne, Mike Kelley, Factory Records designer Peter Saville and Sonic Youth members Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo.

The exhibition takes it's title from the classic Rolling Stones song, as did the previous largest survey of rock's influence on the artworld, the 1997 exhibition "It's Only Rock 'n Roll", at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona. The Stones might seem like an unlikely choice, or indicate the age of the curators, but the band's connection to the artworld is stronger than one might think.

In 1996 I co-curated an exhibition at Art Metropole of artist-designed album covers and the Stones were better represented than any other band, besting even Sonic Youth (who by that point had covers by Kelley, Raymond Pettibon and Gerhardt Richter, but not yet Richard Prince and Christopher Wool). Robert Frank designed the sleeve and postcards for "Exile on Main St.", Francesco Clemente paintings adorn the cover of a 12" single for "One Hit To the Body" and Jagger's second solo record "Primitive Cool", and of course, Andy Warhol's famous zipper cover for "Sticky Fingers". A Warhol screenprint was also the cover for the Stone's "Love You Live" and the artist is often mistaken as the source of the famous lips&tongue logo (which was actually created by designer John Pasche for a mere $100).

"Sympathy for the Devil" opened yesterday and runs until January 6th, 2008.

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